The Program's Structure


The first year of the program provides students with a foundation in history, philosophy, critical theory, and science studies. The centerpiece of the first year is a first-year seminar in which students will become acquainted with the range of subjects, methods and theories from which, later in their careers at Pratt, they will be able to assemble their own specialized paths of study.


The second year of the program is rich in elective offerings that permit students to explore and expand the interests they discovered in their first year of study. The second year is anchored by the two-course sequence of "Symposium" and "Moderation." In Symposium, accomplished scholars in the liberal arts, some from the Institute and some from outside, lecture and lead a seminar in which students gain exposure to the standards of professional intellectual work. In Moderation, students are guided by a faculty committee to reflect on their studies during semesters one to three, identify their interests and begin to focus on the concentration that will structure the final two years of their program. Moderation enables students to take stock of their initial experiences in the program, examine their goals and interests, evaluate their performance, establish their commitment to a course of study, and chart their final two years of college.


In the third year of the program, students use their individual interests, as discovered and refined in Moderation, to pursue an independent concentration. The concentration can follow a standard course of study in the liberal arts, such as anthropology, history, or philosophy; an interdisciplinary course of study, such as cultural studies, urban studies, or visual studies; or an individually designed course of study, such as mass media and society, psychology and the arts, or war and culture. Students can also add minors in studio art to their programs. In addition, many Critical and Visual Studies majors choose to do a credit-bearing internship, taking advantage of the opportunities the city offers and applying their theoretical knowledge in "real-world" contexts. Popular internships include working for non-profits, art and cultural organizations, community and educational groups, and media or publishing outlets. Faculty members supervise the internship and provide guidance.


In the fourth year, students round out their education by taking all-Institute electives in which they explore topics and problems outside of their core areas of study. At the same time, students complete their individual concentrations with the capstone courses "Senior Seminar" and "Senior Thesis," in which students are guided through the process of developing, researching, and writing a graduate-school level essay. The senior thesis, which is the end product of this experience, hones students’ abilities to express themselves, argue their ideas, and make fresh sense of the cultural world. 

The final year in Critical and Visual Studies enhances a student's sense of independence, self-reflection, and the confidence to make a difference in the world. Students are required to work closely with at least one faculty member in writing a thesis. You will also participate in a Senior Seminar course built around weekly meetings in which seniors share their work and learn to give and receive peer reviews in addition to assigned readings and conferences that are intended to support the thesis project from beginning to end. The senior thesis is intended to hone your ability to express and argue your ideas while striving for new understandings of the social and cultural foundations of everyday life.

Bachelor of Arts in Critical and Visual Studies Program Goals

To educate students to:

  • Develop their intellectual literacy.
  • Learn how to think logically, clearly, skeptically, critically and, above all, for themselves.
  • Take in and analyze new information intelligently, that is, learn to learn.
  • Grasp the interconnections and dependencies of the various and diverse fields of human inquiry, artistic endeavor, and cultural, social, and political practice.
  • Refine their sense of ethical, social and political responsibility and of the world’s diverse cultures and communities.
  • Appreciate the aesthetic achievements of poetry, cinema, literature, and the visual arts.
  • Understand the functions of analytical and quantitative reasoning and the methods of the sciences in comprehending the natural and social worlds.
  • Gain meaningful access to the historical past both for its own sake and to think creatively about the future.

Our B.A. major features a core curriculum that provides a foundation in classic and contemporary works of philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities, and in the writings of contemporary thinkers who are of special importance to critical theory and visual studies. The fundamental goal of the faculty is to provide our students with an education that helps them become critical, articulate, widely read, intellectually flexible and culturally savvy.


Joshua Karant
Office: Dekalb 210